Over the break, my family went to our church's candlelight Christmas Eve service. During communion, the preacher sweetly announced that gluten-free crackers were available at the end of the aisle. As soon as he said that, there were audible scoffs in the congregation. The couple in front of me rolled their eyes at each other and sighed.
When I heard these scoffs, my heart felt a twinge of pain. I'm one of "those people."
I know when you envision people cutting out gluten, you probably think of a high-maintenance girl just trying to cut out carbs of her diet due to an "allergy." I know I probably would, honestly. Then, I'd probably make some sarcastic and unloving comment about Ugg boots and PSLs (I'm awful, I know.).
Then, I realized: people make fun of what they don't understand. So, I'm not here to debate whether going gluten-free is the right thing to do or not (unless you have Celiac. Then definitely do that.). I'm just here to share my story.
When I first started getting sick, cutting out gluten was one of the first action items my doctors recommended. In the span of nine months, I saw over 20 doctors, and over half of them recommended I cut out gluten (and sugar) to help my immune system fight my "mystery illness."
When my health was spiraling out of control, making those dietary changes felt like the only thing I could do. When my dad had cancer, we too made similar changes. This lifestyle helped him live in remission for years longer than his counterparts.
So please, the next time you're tempted to make fun of someone eating gluten-free, organic, or whatever it is, I challenge you to consider those around you; there very well could be someone who looks perfectly healthy but is fighting a battle for their lives. As the famous philosopher Topanga Lawrence said, "You do your thing, and I'll do mine."
Maybe this year I'll get healthy, maybe I won't, but maybe, just maybe, I can encourage people to be just a little kinder.